Good Advice Pays Off

The energy transition is weighing heavily on companies around the world – including our customers. There are no simple answers. Nevertheless, Linde MH is determined to demonstrate which solutions are most sustainable in terms of both protecting the climate and cost-effectiveness. That’s why we continue to offer a full range of industrial trucks. And it’s also why, before selling any products, we start every customer process with innovative energy consulting solutions developed in house. Let’s look at two of them in more detail.

The Linde Energy Navigator and Linde Li-Ion Simulator analysis tools are two important developments forming part of a whole range of energy solutions – from energy consulting and the selection of suitable energy technologies to charging and energy management systems – that make it much easier for customers to be more sustainable. The brains behind these tools are Andreas Kistner, Senior Director Business Innovation at Linde MH, and his small team of specialists: “We look into how customers can enhance their processes by exploring everything that could help companies to make informed decisions. This involves us developing suitable systems and taking care of market entry,” says Kistner. The results are practical solutions like the navigator and the simulator, which must always be used as part of a multi-stage process.

Navigator Sets the Course

Are Li-ion drives always the ultimate solution? These days, that’s not always the case. The Linde Energy Navigator helps companies avoid such one-dimensional ways of thinking, which can lead to dead ends on the road to sustainability. The tool is always used at the start of an in-depth personalized consultation, which begins with an analysis using the navigator followed by a detailed evaluation and the implementation of the chosen solution.

The navigator is directly available to all sales staff and energy experts and works as a simple interview-style question-and-answer tool. Criteria like investment strategy, productivity and environmental protection requirements, or access to green energy are automatically collated with data on costs, suitability, or emissions for all energy systems. The results appear after just a few minutes in the form of an easy-to-read graph with percentage scores showing exactly which system is most suitable for the customer. The parameters can be reweighted at any time to see how the results change.

From analysis to implementation
From analysis to implementation
Results shown in a comparison graph
Results shown in a comparison graph

If the customer’s current vehicle fleet is already the most appropriate for them according to these results, the process moves into the final optimization stage. If switching to a different energy system is advisable, Linde MH will perform detailed calculations and measurements and, where necessary, collect data on site to ensure that it can offer the customer the best solution.

Years of work go into developing sophisticated consulting software like this. Kistner is therefore all the more delighted at the excellent response to the tool: “The customers we’ve advised using the navigator are very impressed by it. The results generated by the very structured approach are also very convincing because, for most customers, it’s the first time that they’ve ever seen a comprehensive overview to help them decide which energy system to choose. The navigator has already helped us to gain several customers with large fleets and to build a great deal of trust.” The second tool, the Linde Li-Ion Simulator, is also going a long way to giving customers the confidence that they are choosing the right forward-looking solution.

How About an Electric Drive?

In cases where the Linde Energy Navigator recommends that customers currently using vehicles with diesel or gas combustion engines switch to Li-ion, the next step is to examine the facts. Is Li-ion actually suitable for the customer’s logistics concept and for the way in which trucks are often used across multiple shifts with short periods of downtime for interim charging? This is where the Linde Li-Ion Simulator comes in. To outsiders, it simply looks like a small black box, but to those in the know like Kistner, it takes the quality of energy consulting to a whole new level: “The box is a magnetic tracker that we simply attach to internal combustion forklift trucks or any other vehicle of any brand to simulate what it would be like if the vehicle had a Li-ion power unit.” After 14 days, the data is exported and used to determine whether a Li-ion power unit would be suitable for the customer’s specific circumstances and which Linde MH battery size should replace the internal combustion engine. This allows for the ideal combination of availability, investment, and grid load to be identified so that the right energy solution is found.

The simulator is one of the latest developments to benefit Linde MH’s customers and is already being very well received. To date, it has been used for more than 140 projects with over 1,100 forklift trucks and is already proving a resounding success in several national companies and at numerous dealers. “I see it as yet another tool for helping us to pinpoint the best sustainable solution as part of our data-driven and highly professional energy consulting service,” says Kistner. In countries like Poland that rely heavily on coal-fired electricity, diesel or natural gas drives may be the best option, especially if hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) or organic natural gas is used to fuel the vehicle.

Heavy? Have E!

Looking for a forklift truck with a load capacity of 10 to 18 metric tons? Surely only vehicles with a conventional combustion engine are capable of such tough jobs... Think again!

The managers at Liebherr-MCCtec Rostock, a specialist in heavy-duty cranes for the maritime industry, recently did just that. Since production began at Liebherr’s huge plant in 2005, the company has only ever used Linde forklift trucks. It wanted to make its manufacturing process more sustainable so decided to replace its largest Linde model, the H160 internal combustion truck, with an electric counterpart. The E160 entered the ring and enjoyed a decisive victory, with both the version with a lead-acid battery and, even more so, the version with a lithium-ion drive impressing the company in terms of performance and sustainability. Using just one E160 at Liebherr prevents 16.5 metric tons of CO₂ from entering the atmosphere every year. Driver Gerd Prief couldn’t be happier: “I would be delighted if the E160 were to become the new standard here at our plant.”

Andreas Kistner

It’s vital that we use our consulting service and tools to identify the best drive for each of our customers so that they can benefit from the right energy solution.

Andreas Kistner, Senior Director Business Innovation Linde MH

Opening the Door to More Sustainable Practices

“It’s crucial that we use our tools wherever we can to allay customers’ fears of switching to a new energy system or to a Li-ion drive,” says Kistner. The idea is for many companies to firstly use the navigator and then the simulator, before starting to test the solution in the most suitable part of their fleet. Once they have had a positive experience with this, they will usually be in a position to gradually switch their entire fleet to a sustainable solution. “Our tools often open the door to more sustainable practices.” While Kistner is clearly proud of this achievement, his mind is already on the next software solution he is working on – a revamped version of the Linde energy calculator, which is used in the next step of the consultation process to calculate vehicle costs and total cost of ownership more accurately. The new version will, of course, focus even more heavily on results that boost sustainability.

On the Road to the Best Solution

Marco Dirnhofer, New Energy Solutions Expert at Linde Material Handling, explains the company’s highly open-minded approach to fleet planning consultations, which often uncovers surprising ways of increasing sustainability.